I´m not gonna lie, Madrid has been the highlight of my time in Europe so far. My family had a foreign exchange student from Spain when I was in high school, Dani, and I have been staying with his family this past weekend. I also knew his brother Javier before, as he was friends with another one of our former exchange students. During my stay here they have made me feel like I was at home and they are one of the nicest and caring families I have ever met. I´ve been stuffed with some of the most delicious food I´ve ever tasted over the past couple of days, not once coming even close to hungry. They also have one of most beautiful houses that I´ve ever been in.
I arrived on Friday and was picked up at the airport by Javi. When we arrived at his house, I was greeted by Dani and his mom. Immediately I was sat down and fed jamon (spanish ham), a spanish omellete, and a couple of different kinds of fruit. We all talked for awhile, then went to sleep because Dani and I were going out the next morning.
We woke up and I was treated to a breakfast of jamon on toast with olive oil and tomatoes. It was funny because I´ve always heard my brother talk about this from when he visited, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. [A quick note on jamon: it´s nothing like ham in the US, it´s actually illegal in the US. They have a giant pig´s leg in their basement and they go slice off pieces whenever they like. It´s much chewier than we´re used to, almost like more raw and salty bacon. But it´s delicious] After breakfast, Dani and I went to "El Escorial", an old palace where kings of Spain used to live. It was very interesting and the mountains and view that surrounded it was great as well. We went back to Dani´s house to eat paella for lunch, it was easily the best paella I´ve ever had. And if you haven´t noticed yet, this post is going to be mostly about food so get used to it :) That afternoon Dani, Javi, and I went to downtown Madrid to get some sight seeing done. We went to see the royal palace, the opera house, Plaza Mayor, and this cool structure that was donated by the egyptians. That night we went out to get tapas (sort of like appetizers). We ordered fried mushrooms, croquettes, morcilla, and french fries with jamon and eggs on top. Dani wouldn´t tell me what morcilla was until I tried it, which was a good plan because I ended up liking it but I probably wouldn´t have tried it had he told me before hand that it was rice cooked in pigs blood and then put into pig´s intestines. We were supposed to go to a club that night but it didn´t work out so we pretty much just got a bottle of rum and a bottle of whiskey with a couple of his friends and stood around and drank in the streets of Madrid. Sounds boring, but when you´re not allowed to do this in the US it makes for a great time. We came home around 5:00 and I slept like a baby.
We woke up on Saturday and me, Dani, and his girlfriend went to Segovia to eat cuchinillo. If you don´t know what cuchinillo is, it´s pretty much like a baby pig roast and they serve it to your table with pretty much it´s entire body. Search for it on google, you´ll get the idea. I´ll also have pictures of it up on facebook when I get back to Milan. I really enjoyed it, but its not exactly something that I would want to eat everyday. After that we went walking around Segovia to see an aqueduct built by the Romans, the cathedral, and a really cool castle that was complete with a moat and everything. I didn´t end up going going out Saturday night because I was really tired and not really in the mood to stay out till 5:00 am again.
Today (Sunday) we went to go see their mom sing at church, which was really cool. The singing was a lot more lively than what we are used to in American churches. After church, everybody goes to a building right next to the church to have a beer or two and eat some food. Yeah, how awesome is that, having a couple of beers in a church owned building is socially acceptable. Following the post-church beer, we went out to another fantastic lunch. We had some tapas of french fries with eggs, fried mushrooms, and mussels. The main course was fabulous, it was ox that comes out rare and you cook it on a very hot plate that you have in front of you individually.
Tonight I am going to the Real Madrid game with Javi and then tomorrow I catch a plane to Barcelona. I´ve had a great time here, it´s going to be hard to leave tomorrow and go back to the poor college student life!